Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nathan Had a Sqeezebox, Momma Didn't Sleep at Nignt

The blogosphere lit up least week twittering the blessings of Benny Netanyahu's unplan for a settlement of the Palestinian issue. AIPAC was fully mobilized to rah-rah his message of hope for Israel in case it fell flat. It didn't, but once everybody sobered up it is now being perceived that Nate has possibly painted any hope of a peace process into a corner with himself. You can't just say what he said and then backtrack on any of it. Credibility is as much an issue as anything else. Nate has the ultra rightists who keep him in power to worry about more than the Palestinians he's going to need to trust him..

Just what did Nate say any way? Well he prefaced his remarks to Congress by saying he was all for peace and that Israel was prepared to make some painful choices and to "be generous" to achieve that peace. But there were to be some provisos.

First there was the matter of the Jewish State - not the old 'State of  Israel' as mandated by the UN  and constituted by the founders - no a religious state, the land of the Jews. All of a sudden anybody who's non-Jewish by matrilinear descent or religious conversion is possibly not a citizen. That includes all those who would, I assume, prefer not to sign the new loyalty oath. Recognition of that State is a precondition for negotiations.

A second point is that the pre-1967 boundaries will not be the 'starting point' for defining the new Jewish entity. It's "flexible" borders will be defined through negotiation and land swaps. It's pretty apparent that Israel will look much like it does now, with some sort of tribal 'homeland' for the Palestinians passing through it. It's highly unlikely that 'homeland' will, or can be contiguous. But when it's only needed as a pool of labour, it doesn't have to be contiguous and it seems there's little other reason for having a separate Palestinian state but for the fact palestinians wouldn't 'fit' in a Jewish one.

All non-citizen Arabs would live in the Palestinian Zone. All except those Arabs who still claim  property in Israel but who are now refugees in neighboring counties. They lose all rights to their confiscated property and as 'palestinans'. Another precondition.

That arab entity would have responsibility only for its domestic affairs, everything else would be sieved though the Jewish state. Little will change for the State of Palestine that doesn't exist for the Palestinian authority.

As far as negotiations go,  Israel reserves its right to not negotiate with HAMAS, or with the PA if HAMAS is affiliated with them. They want the PA to elect a new 'peace partner'. Since HAMAS IS the current PA government, that's going to be a real sticking point. Even more so if they win more seats in the planned fall election. Even if Israel could skew that election, it's highly unlikely even Fatah would roll over for Netanyahu. If they did, any such peace treaty he outlined would never get ratified.

The saga continues to-day with the announcement, coming out of the recent G8 meeting in France, that a "balanced" view of Israel's situation is required. This at the instance of Canada's Steve Harper and in opposition to Obama's stated '67 borders scheme.  It is also mooted that Harper's position was 'reinforced' by a call from Netanyahu, although this is in keeping with Harper's support for everything else Israel has done since he was first elected.  Leiberman the Israeli Minister of Defence did, however, publicly thank him for the 'support'

What happens next will depend on American politics and, particularly, if Obama gets a second term. Israel can't be forced to do anything. Even if the UN was to vote unanimously on a Palestinian homeland, nothing could be done to effect it. Israel's security will always trump world concern. Until perhaps Israel is isolated.

Even then, the nuclear card she doesn't play could affect any outcomes that aren't perceived to be advantageous to her. There's a strong streak of the Masada complex in Israelis, even the blogging ones.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And the Cat Came Back

Six months, or so, back, I posted  on the results of a court case which saw a man with AIDS given a life sentence for spending seven years 'accidentally' infecting a number of women when he refused to follow health department instructions to inform his partners and to wear a condom . Two of his partners died of AIDS related illnesses and three others were infected.

Well it didn't take our man long to figure out that jail isn't where he wants to be and so, somehow, he's back in court trying to convince a judge that a) he's really sorry, b) he understands now what he did wrong, c) he's better now and d) he'd like to help others avoid doing what he did. The part about his being able to atone and pay back being much better done if he wasn't in the slammer, hasn't been mentioned in the media, yet.

By way of explaining what happened to him he had a long sad tale to tell.  His slide into despair apparently started with a deformed testicle. That brought him ridicule as a youngster and gave him those bad of feelings of inadequacy. Would to goodness the Nazi heirarchy had such debilitating results from the scrotal abnormalities  described in the old soldiers' song. But I digress.

Growing up in Idi Amin's Uganda didn't do him any good as, apparently, he got to look at a lot of dead people before he emigrated to Canada. Things 'picked up' there, with a free university education and a government job. He got married and had three kids. And then, somehow, he got an HIV infection. That 'somehow' probably had a lot to do with his wife leaving with the kids and the 'devastating' divorce settlement she laid on him. The economic hit was so bad that he took up drinking after work. It wasn't long before he realized he was lonely, and that the ladies in the bars were lonely, too. They obviously didn't mind his hideous gonadal disfigurement, for he, apparently, had a very productive sex life. Until some of the ladies started asking him pointed questions about his health. It appears that some of his partners were just happy to have a man, let alone one with a shrivelled nut and a heavy viral load, they didn't ask and he didn't tell. He didn't want to 'jeopardize' the companionship by wearing a rubber, either. Somebody got sick, the police got involved.They found out about the health department and the unmentionable. Bim! Bam! Boom!  He's doing life.

But he's back and he's got a sympathetic lawyer. And all he wants to do now is to 'give back' by educating kids about what happens when you keep your HIV to yourself, or don't.  The free medication he's been given in prison has reduced his viral load to nearly zero. So, even if somebody found him irresistable, he'd be almost a safe as any other guy who's not shooting blanks. Maybe he'd like to increase his family.

No doubt his lawyer will point out that having him sit in the slammer for twenty years, thinking over what he already knows now, will be awaste of valuable resources. Why, he could be kept comfy on a disability pension from  OMERS, some publicly-funded housing and medication and stuff, while he 'helps' people. And all for a lot less than the $75 000 it costs  to keep him in jail. It's a win-win proposition.

If it were anybody else I might agree, but there's the niggling thing I just don't get. Sad, lonely, drunk, stupid whatever, how do you go on for seven effin' years exposing people to a disease you say made you feel like you'd been "shot in the head, heart, soul"? No matter how scared, or traumatized, or deluded you were, there wasn't a single day when you thought to yourself what you were doing with your love gun was exactly what ruined your life? If that never happened, the guy should not be walking among us, he will do it again. And if it did happen, only once,  why didn't he stop? Why did he 'unintentionally' kill two people and ruin three other lives? Those errors is worth more than twenty years of his. In days past he might have been hung.

He can be a more effective "poster boy for AIDS" doing his time. He can save up for a computer and cheap video camera and make some presentations from his cell. The message will be all the more credible.

PS: At his appeal, Johnson Aziga was declared a Dangerous Offender. He will be imprisoned indefinitely due to his 'likelihood to reoffend'. I hope he doesn't get on the prison 'screw squad'.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Great Toronto Terror - a la Wikileaks

Now that radical islam's threats to Canadian life has been expunged, we have only to await the writing of the memoirs of the guys who 'took down terror'.

Those revelatons may be at some distance in the future as, no doubt, secrecies will have been sworn and blood oaths will preclude the prolix. But there are some codicils being written as we wait. An interesting one showed up yesterday  via wikileaks.

The Toronto Star printed a story that CSIS, the Canadian spy agency, had placed one of its 'star' witnesses, Mubin Shaikh, on the US no-fly list. Shaikh had been an informant while pretending to use his experience in the militia to pretend to carry-out military pretend military training for pretend group of Toronto pretend terrorists.

 You may recall the saga of  how diligent police work took down a network that threatened to bomb downtown Toronto, when they weren't up in Ottawa beheading the House of Commons. The 'evidence' read out in court and backed up by the eyewitness accounts of two paid police informers, was enough to convict the 10 of them. They have been sentenced to stiff sentences of between  2.5 years and life in prison. The court was told how they had talked, planned and comunicated about the jihad, how they had camped out and played soldiers with a real pistol and a variety of other pseudo weapons. How they had  obtained a quantity of what they thought was fertilizer for a bomb and how police nabbed them all in a 'massive' sweep operation  when two of them showed up to unload it from the police rental truck.

One 'hero' of the piece, back then, was Shaikh, who was said to have approached CSIS with an offer to act as an agent. CSIS referred him to the RCMP who paid him  at least a quarter million dollars for his services. It must have stuck in somebody's craw that asking for money when your country's existence is at stake, isn't very patriotic. And maybe that's why his name appears on a couple of American no-fly lists. Not just no-fly but also 'detain and investigate' lists.  Shaikh is a 'person of interest' to the US, perhaps becasuse he weas involved in the original 'oops I dropped my horseleg' pistol-smuggling operation that 'broke the case and perhaps because he's  holder of some of that 'intel' that has gotten others trips to interesting places and extended Cuban holidays. No wonder the lad is not impressed. CSIS also got his birth information wrong - claiming that Shaikh was born overseas,  when he was actually born at St. Mike's hospital in Toronto.

So much for the 'honour' among those who safeguard our freedoms.  Actually honour has nothing to do with it. Shakh got paid and the listing was a bonus - CSIS tells the Americans all. America tells CSIS what it wants them to know.

The real story couldn't be much different from the fiction.

Well? We're still here.

The "great earthquake" prophesied to begin the process of social disintegration leading up to the endtimes ultimate event, failed to appear, as foretold, again. I'm trying to figure out who gains in all this crap, there have to be 'suckers fleeced' somewhere. My bet is that the Grand Moff Tarkin who did the arithmetical computations, hasn't divested himself totally of all his worldly goods. But it appears that some poor dopes may have.

4 or 5 years back the same thing happened in Russia and a number of people in the Moscow area 'purified' themselves of everything but a clean bedsheet in anticipation of 'fahrt zum himmel'. It must have come as a shock in the ensuing years that the trip was off. Would it have been some form of welching to have 'indian gifted' all the stuff? And would the recipients have been 'doing the right thing' giving it all back? Deeply held religious beliefs and all.

That such messianic tidings should still be a regular occurrence should be of no real surprise to us. When we see the icons on which our 'world' is predicated - Bear Stearns, Lehmann Brothers, Enron, Bernie Madoff and the like - those things that 'fill the sole with joy' - proven to have the proverbial 'feet of clay', it makes the true believer start looking for alternatives. And so we have Raelians and Scientology and the fevered dreams of part-time shoe salesmen, petrologists and a host of others with 'good ideas'  for us to improve ourselves. If it isn't Donnie and Marie selling you stuff to eat that's going to give you the bod you've never had (and that mother Nature's going to alter significantly) or the shopping channeleers peddling undies and electronics , jewellry and cosmetics, investment chattels and health gizmos that will , if nothing else, make your life 'fuller', it's the glossy merchandising of a million 'lifestyle'  marketers selling everything from music to dog food. Consumerism is our faith - the market will never be empty - and religion, these days, is just another consumer choice. It's debunked as myth and superstition and used by many as the source of  'income generation'.

The ultimate 'big win' of course is the kingdom of heaven, the new Eden, Paradise ....  a place away from all this mortal coil stuff where all will be, as it was in the beginning, all blissful perfection. It didn't take the hotshots down at the temple long to figure out that magical amulets and an 'in' with the deity were marketable assets. The business of religion has been around since Ogg first saw the divine fire. But you'd think that we'd have managed to shake off the notion that 'buying' eternity isn't a sucker move of the first water. Especially if 'buying' it means letting somebody else, who ain't God either, do the driving for you. This latter happens too much. Yesterday it happened again.

The leaders of the great religions weren't into 'passing the plate' - although some of their followers had the real-world 'smarts' to realize you can't run an organization on faith alone. Judas may have been concerned about 'the bottom line', but I don't think that Jesus was - they had some words that might indicate a basic difference of opinion on the subject. I don't think Buddha was big on the collection, although generosity with ones' earthly belongings was praised as virtuous. Like other such thinkers, he pointed out that such belongings only get in the way of growth to enlightenment. All those thinkers - even including Mohamet - put that 'growth', over finite lifetime, as the ultimate achievement. All of them encourage the development of the sublime over the practical, the thought and word over the material, a way of living over a lifestyle.

Our artificial lifestyle - I say artificial because we've done a great job of dissociating ourselves from the natural in life - just cries out for the experience of 'real' that has us getting-off on survival, or reconnecting with a self,  blasted by bad choices in social 'advances' and abuse of what we used to consider 'gifts' but now take as  rights, or  ways of escaping. For with all our stuff  we enjoy watching the foibles of others with their 'stuff', our's is far neater and better-organized don'tcha know! We enjoy watching - and there's nothing much wrong with that for getting an idea of what life is like - but it leads us to trust things and people we shouldn't be trusting much at all. Yesterday it was a apocalytic earthquake that didn't happen, tomorrrow it could be a power outage - a severe one would have the same social effect over a period of a couple of weeks. Imagine the effect of no refrigeration, or heat, or even drinking water. We 'trust' a lot of institutions and organizations to make sure we have these. God doesn't have to move the earth to screw these up, we can do that all by ourselves.

Maybe those who were having 'apocalypse parties' last night to celebrate the non-event could 'smarten up' enough to consider the last points. You'd have to be a mental midget, or a bunker dweller, to think that the 'end of it all' was a good reason to party.

There's always the end of that Mayan Calendar coming up in the Fall.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Putting the whammi on Muammi Ghaddafi

Watching one of those 'town hall' meetings so much in vogue of late, on the topic of the current regime change underway in Libya. There were a host of experts and pundits available to discuss NATO's 'responsibility', acquired via the UN from the latest US doctrine - the 'obligation to protect' and how that is being applied in Libya. The 'rebel' side was represented by a number of expatriot Libyans.

The overall impression however, despite a wide ranging and comprehensive exchange of diplomatic, military, and civilian views, is that, somehow, a significant number of Libyans seem to be being left out of the discussion. And that is strange. For Libya, the last time I looked, hadn't declared war on anybody, and aside, from a UN resolution, had anyone declared war on it. There should be a number of Libyan voices still representative of the 'ancien regime' who could  offer an apologia, if not a perspective, for it. They may not be 'enemy aliens', but there is no way their narrative is being introduced into the debate, not in any free and open democratic forum.

So it seems that Ghaddafi, supported by two, (now only one), sons and the elite military units they command, are not only holding-off the rest of the country under the latest and best air bombardment NATO can offer, they actually seem to be able to put a regular 'run' on the 'rebel' forces and maintain another couple of seiges. They seem to be in control of, or able to deny control to, the country's oil resources. Ghaffi et fils seem to be in control of the western half of the country, and able to dispute the central coast, the southern areas seem to be theirs, too. What puts them in some jeopardy is the source of arms and supplies for the rebel forces, in the absence of such re-supply for his own. His ability to wage a conventional war seems to have been heavily-attritted but the notion that he might have access to some sophisticated weapons, particularly anti-aircraft weapons, is keeping the Coalition Airforce at altitude where they might not be as effective as wished. That notion might also be holding up the committment of ground forces..

As I pick this screed up (some 5 weeks later)  little has changed, except  now that NATO has managed to clear out at least some old stock from the bomb lockers, and Ghaddafi has become a personal 'high-value target',again,  the leader of the free world wants permission from Congress - of the USA (not the world) - to 'go kinetic'  by introducing an armed force into Libya. It's really suprising that the 'sober' voices (the silent ones) of the UN aren't saying 'enough already' and calling for a truce and talks. If only in New York - for the Security Council seems to be wagging the UN dog, and not doing it the least bit well at it.

So far the US seems to be taking some delight in pounding Ghaddafi's "compound" to rubble and using the general explanation (he brought them to a firefight?) to excuse their blasting a couple of his grandchildren and one of his sons. You'd think a country affected by one, singular, earth-shaking catastrophe might have some reluctance about visiting the same, in spades, on somebody else, particularly somebody else who did nothing to harm them. But, hey, if you had to hit back your 'pals' ..... it's always easier to punish an 'enemy'.

The testosterone is flowing in the US ... all the Bin Laden 'high fives'  have sprouted a 'bush' full of  'macho'  and John Wayne 'say-sos'. All except when it comes to gallant little Israel, though. Mr Meshuggeneh can come to America and address Congress, call the President a 'naif' and ridicule his Weltanschaung in the press. He can say that there's no way he's even going to consider what Obama, or the UN says, in his'existential' defence of Eretz Israel. Maybe if Israel wasn't America's 'only, real' friend. But then, who would want those high tech weapons - or be willing to use them - just look at what they do with the money they don't have to spend arming themselves, they've turned that desert into a garden, fer pete's sake. Or maybe that's the money they've screwed out of Gaza and the West Bank..

Another little north African 'adventure' may be just the ticket the US armed forces need to get their morale problem in order. A swift little desert war - putting the Abrams and the armored fist to work like Rommel did. And not a Monty, or even an O'Connor in sight - should be a 'cake walk', and an opportunity to show up the 'luftweapon' who figured they could bomb Muammar out of office.

But it better not take more than 2 weeks.

PS: There's no chance this is a Bin Laden post mortem trick, eh? Replacing 'the revolution' with Al Qaeda?  Nah, probably not.